Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Blue Cheese Mash with Cavolo Nero (Kale), Served with Salmon

It's Mystery Box Madness time again at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are given a list of ten ingredients to cook with and are challenged to make a dish using at least three of the ingredients from our current IHCC chef or any of our former chefs.

September's Mystery Box Ingredients are: salmon, green peas, hazelnuts, eggplant, Parmesan cheese, kale, apples, blue cheese, rosemary, and bread rolls/buns.

I had it in my head that I was going to make a salmon recipe and had some nice King salmon pieces in the freezer but then I couldn't seem to find a recipe that included two other mystery ingredients. I then decided to go the kale route and remembered a Nigel Slater dish that had popped up when I was looking for a colcannon recipe a while back. I had bookmarked his Blue Cheese Mash with Cavolo Nero recipe and was delighted to reread it find that it included rosemary. So along with the cavolo nero (aka black kale, Tuscan kale or lacinand ato kale), blue cheese and rosemary filled the required three mystery box ingredients--and the simply grilled salmon alongside is just a bonus. ;-)

Nigel says, "An unashamedly buttery mash with bright green cabbage and a blue cheese and rosemary butter. Comfort food at the highest level."

Blue Cheese Mash with Cavolo Nero
Nigel Slater via
(Serves 4)

floury potatoes 1kg (about 2.2 lbs)
cavolo nero (kale) 100g (about 3.5 ounces)--I used one medium bunch of kale
butter 150g (about 5.3 oz)
rosemary, 3 sprigs
blue cheese such as Cashel Blue 150g (about 5.3 oz)

(I added about 1/3 cup coconut creamer--see Notes/Results below)

Peel the potatoes, cut them into large pieces and cook in lightly salted boiling water for about 20 minutes till tender. While the potatoes are cooking, remove the stems from the cavolo nero and chop them into small pieces. Shred the leaves and set aside.

When the potatoes are tender to the point of a knife, drain them and mash with 35g of the butter. Place a lid or cloth over the pan to keep them warm.

Melt 25g of the butter in a shallow pan, add the chopped stems and cook for 4-5 minutes till tender, then remove from the pan, leaving the butter behind. As the stems become tender, add the shredded leaves and cook for a couple of minutes till soft. 

Melt 90g of the butter in a shallow pan, add two of the rosemary sprigs whole then warm over a low heat. Remove the leaves from the remaining rosemary sprig, chop very finely and add to the pan to warm. Once the butter starts to fizz, crumble the cheese into the pan in large pieces.

To serve, divide the potatoes between four plates, making a well in the centre of each mound, then add the cavolo nero leaves and stems. Remove the whole sprigs of rosemary from the pan and trickle the blue cheese butter over the potatoes and cabbage.

Notes/Results: This is a very decadent and ultra-indulgent mashed potato with it's buttery blue cheese sauce. I'd like to say the kale makes it a health food but that would be a lie. ;-) I think some people might stay away from this recipe thinking it was too much with the strong flavors of the blue cheese and rosemary but it actually was not overpowering and in fact, I could have added more rosemary to the mix for my tastes. I did find my potatoes to be a bit too dry while mashing with just the 35 grams of butter (which is a bit more than 1/8 cup) so I added 1/3 cup of the only "milk" I happened to have on hand which was coconut creamer--and it definitely made the potatoes creamier. Slater's recipe is a tad finicky with how it all goes together in steps. For serving guests I would do it this because I think it looks nice on the plate with the the sauce drizzled on top but for just me, I would reduce the steps and mash it all together. I did that with the leftovers and it was just as tasty. A couple of notes on the ingredients; we are lucky to get great local lacinato kale year round here but I scored the bonus of a bunch with really young and tender leaves which are optimum for this dish as you have to do less stem removing and cooking when the leaves are more delicate. I was able to find the recommended Cashel blue cheese at Whole Foods and I really enjoyed this Irish blue cheese's creamy texture and it's tangy, but not too sharp flavor. Salmon was a great pairing for these potatoes as the flavor stands up to the stronger flavors in the dish--although if you are of a meat eating persuasion, it would go well with any simply flavored roast meat or poultry. These potatoes definitely make me think of fall (with great longing as the record-setting heat and humidity here is killing me and is expected to remain until "early winter." Ugh!) and I would happily make this again. 

You can see what mystery ingredients, recipes and chefs other participants chose for September's Mystery Box Madness Challenge by checking out the picture links on the post at the IHCC website.



  1. Great minds think alike! Yours, done the "right" way looks very pretty!

  2. Hah! Not sure it was the "right" way--just the fussier, fancier way! ;-) I was just was happy with it all mixed in. Truly great minds thinking alike for sure!

  3. ooh! bleu cheese mash sounds so good!

  4. Another blue cheese dish, I sure must get my hands on some!

  5. I've been craving mashed potatoes big time lately and I love all the flavor and GREEN this adds to them!

  6. Sounds like the ultimate comfort food. Rosemary and blue cheese combination takes it over the top.

  7. Proud of you for serving these the fancy way the first time around ;) I know you were longing to mix it all together as I would've been! Saying that, there is definitely something to be said for serving food in layers and the melted blue cheese on top looks so naughty and delicious! Interested in the Cashel from Whole Foods, WF does have a wonderful cheese section. Will need to try that. These potatoes look so incredible next to that gorgeous salmon (I have total salmon envy right now). We just don't get good fish here!

  8. It looks very appetizing presented in layers but I would have been tempted to mash it all together as well. I love the idea of blue cheese with kale - a combination I've never tried.

  9. Hi Deb,
    I am always so curious of Kale as I have never tried it before, nor seen it before either! I've recently bought a pack of Red Russian Kale seeds and just sowed them today, fingers crossed that they'll grow!
    Serving your blue cheese mash with salmon looks so delicious, makes such a lovely meal! First time I've tried blue cheese and find that I do like it! :)

  10. I'm trying to like kale, I really am, but....

    This does look tasty tho.


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